Choosing the Best Drought-Tolerant Plants for Your Garden

Not all water-wise plants are created equal so pick the right ones for your garden by knowing the difference between native and nonnative varieties.

Like many well-intentioned “greenies” I tried to do the right thing by ripping out my water-wasting lawn and substituting it with the most drought tolerant foliage I could find. Unfortunately some of these nonnatives—such as the invasive fennel—can cause more harm than good, and upset the balance of the local ecosystem.

Some of these hardy “foreigners” take over the garden and invade the neighborhood by spreading seeds via the wind, the bottoms of shoes and through local wildlife fecal distribution. (Translation: Birds poop out the seeds.) For example, in our fragile coastal wetlands ice plant crowds out native plant seedlings while pampas grass grows wild, creating a fire hazard.

In my garden I should have stuck with native plants, which not only thrive in this region, but also support Mar Vista's insect and bird populations and coexist with other local plants.

Learn more about native versus nonnative plants and how to choose the best drought-tolerant plants for your garden by following these simple guidelines:

  • Familiarize yourself with The Terrible Ten: This list of the most common invasive plants helps you avoid making the wrong choices right off the bat. You might recognize many of these plants from your strolls through our Mar Vista neighborhoods.
  • Visit Grow Native Nursery in Westwood: Grow Native boasts one of the largest selections of vibrant plants that support our local environment. The nursery also offers expert advice from well-trained staff on wise-water solutions.
  • Replace nonnative invasive plants from your own yard with native varieties: The parkway is a great starting point. It will serve as a living display for neighbors and passers-by. The city of Los Angeles’ Residential Parkway Guidelines lists more than 20 climate-appropriate plants.
  • Volunteer with Ballona Wetlands to remove invasive nonnatives from sensitive habitats.

Jeanne Kuntz combines sustainable living with health and wellness. Learn more about successful behavior change on her website, TeachingWellness.com

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